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Baltimore woman charged in deaths of niece, nephew found in truck during traffic stop

Police found the children's decomposing bodies during a traffic stop of a car their aunt was driving.
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A Baltimore-area woman was ordered held without bail Friday after she was charged in connection with the deaths of her young niece and nephew after police said they were found in a vehicle she was driving.

Nicole M. Johnson, 33, was charged with multiple counts of felony child abuse causing death, felony child abuse causing severe injury, failure to report a child's death, and disposing of a body in an unauthorized place, according to court records.

The Baltimore County Public Defender's Office, assigned to represent her, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Associated Press reported that Johnson had had temporary custody of the children.

Baltimore County police said in a statement that the bodies of siblings Joshlyn Johnson, 7, and Larry O’Neil, 5, were found in a vehicle driven by Johnson during a traffic stop in unincorporated Essex late Wednesday.

The bodies were taken by the county medical examiner, and Johnson was taken into custody, police said.

The reason for the stop wasn't given, but NBC affiliate WBAL of Baltimore reported that Johnson was suspected of speeding.

The station said the children might have been malnourished; their bodies were severely underweight. The bodies were also decomposing, WBAL said.

County Executive Johnny Olszewski tweeted, "The abhorrent details of this heartbreaking incident remain difficult to comprehend."

Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said in a statement Friday, "I am grateful that the harrowing details of this case were thoroughly and quickly uncovered, resulting in an expeditious closure to this tragedy."

Hyatt described the circumstances as "the unspeakable deaths of two innocent children."

The state's attorney's office has joined in the investigation, police said.

A preliminary hearing for Johnson was scheduled for Aug. 27.